Brief Fact Summary. A gay rights group requested permission, but was denied the right to march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government may not compel a private speaker to alter its message to include generally accepted views.
Our review of the appellants First Amendment claim carries with it a constitutional duty to conduct an independent examination of the record as a whole, without deference to the trial court.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is state law requiring inclusion of gay rights marchers in a privately organized parade constitutional?
Held. No. The parade composition represents the organizers choice of expression. It is beyond government power to control the speech of private individuals or organizations when the organization does not agree with or believe in the message conveyed.
Discussion. Parades are a form of expression because the march intends to convey a message and is not just movement of people from one location to another. Since the parade was privately organized, Petitioner had the right to choose the parade’s message and participants to the exclusion of others. The lack of a concentrated theme does not lead to a forfeiture of this constitutional protection of speech.